Australian industry learning nuclear-powered submarines in the UK

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

ASA Media

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4 November 2023

The Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP, joined the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, UK Secretary of State for Defence, at Rolls Royce’s nuclear reactor manufacturing site in Derby where they met Australian industry personnel undertaking placement within the United Kingdom defence industry. 

The Australian industry representatives are currently undertaking three-week rotations at Rolls Royce, BAE Systems and Babcock.

Over the nine-week program, participants will have an invaluable opportunity to learn from submarine experts across the three organisations and observe how they develop and maintain some of the most advanced submarine technologies in the world.  

The placements are part of the broader efforts by Australia, with the support of the United Kingdom and the United States, to develop the workforce required to build and sustain our conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines and uphold the highest standards of nuclear safety and security.

Placements of Australians in the shipyards and training facilities of our AUKUS partners is essential to uplift Australia’s skill base.  

These placements also provide valuable insights into the skilling requirements needed across nuclear-powered submarine job functions. This undertaking will generate thousands of Australian jobs across the coming years and decades, with these placements an important first step.

Australia’s conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine program is a whole-of-nation undertaking, creating opportunities for Australian industry nation-wide, as well as opportunities extending beyond the build of SSN-AUKUS submarines, including to support the industrial bases in the US and the UK.

AUKUS cooperation will result in benefits to industrial capability across all three nations with enhanced resilience of trilateral supply chains. There will be significant new opportunities for small, medium, and large enterprise across all AUKUS partners.

The Deputy Prime Minister also had the opportunity to tour the Rolls Royce facility and see the first nuclear propulsion plant components being fabricated for the UK’s SSN-AUKUS program.

As the UK has confirmed, Rolls Royce will deliver complete, welded nuclear power units for the Australian built SSN-AUKUS submarines to be operated by the Royal Australian Navy.

All aspects of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program will continue to be consistent with each AUKUS partners’ respective non-proliferation obligations and commitments.

Quotes attributable to Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP:

“The development of Australia’s workforce to build, sustain and operate our conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines is well underway.  

“Australia is working closely with the UK and the US to progressively develop the skills, knowledge and expertise to safely and securely build, operate and maintain nuclear-powered submarines.

“I was encouraged meeting these Australians who are so energised and excited by the opportunity to learn and the potential to be involved in Australia’s own nuclear-powered submarine program. 

“I thank the UK and the US for their commitment through AUKUS to transferring not just their technology, but also their skills, knowledge and expertise for the safe and successful delivery of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program. 

“These Australian industry placements provide us with an invaluable opportunity to learn from our experienced partners in and to better understand the functions and scope of this work.” 

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